Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sagada: Getting off the grid in Shangri-La

Sagada - Lake Danum Moody Blues II
Lake Danum Moody Blues
So there we were hiking off to Lake Danum on a weekday afternoon, hurrying before the sun slips off the horizon to slumber.  It was sunny when we set off but the weather quickly shifted moods.  The clouds repeatedly sent drizzles our way and the fog rolled in, obscuring the sun and concealing much of the landscape in a hurry.  With the poor visibility, we missed the turn to the lake and had to hesitantly consult Google Maps on our mobile to retrace our steps and find our way.  So much for catching the sunrise.

Sagada - Foggy Road to Danum
Following the foggy road to Besao
But all's not lost.  On the contrary, the fog rewarded us with some surprises.  Lake Danum shrouded in mist is a sight to behold -- mystical, haunting, otherworldly even.  Curiously, the lake looked smaller to me compared to the last time I was here and rather overdeveloped with the concrete road replacing the grassy trail.  Several adult cows and their calves were grazing on one end of the lake.  Perhaps intoxicated by the fog, they went eye-to-eye and nose-to-nose with us.  Strange.  It's not everyday that you get ogled this close by cows.  I thought I have a strange effect on dogs but I didn't know this extends to cows as well, tee-hee.
Sagada - Lake Danum Ironwulf and Cows
Cows and calves ogle us in the fog
It's the first day of a return trip to Sagada, my first out-of-towner in nearly two months and I intend to just relax and take it easy.  After wrapping up work for an international convention (half-a-year's worth of work in less than two months!), the first order of the day was to slow down and do a lot of nothing for a change.  Going back to Sagada always feels like a good idea -- go somewhere cool, somewhere remote, somewhere you can unplug from the world-at-large.  And going there on a weekday is an even better idea because you can have the town all to yourself.  That we were the only ones billeted at Rock Inn, two kilometers away from the town proper, makes the peace and quiet even more pronounced especially at night when it's so quiet, you can hear yourself think.
Sagada - View of the Town on the Road to Besao II
View of the town proper from the escarpment on the road to Besao
Again, it's nice to take a trip with a very relaxed itinerary with no pressure to shoot or write.  It's refreshing to breathe in lungfuls of clean air (oh, if only I can sequester some in a bottle and bring it home!). In the next few days, we just want to revisit some places, talk to the locals, catch up with acquaintances, see what's new, sample the food at regular stops like Yoghurt House, get a massage, drink in all that marvelous scenery, look out for stars after dark, play with the dogs and basically, just laze around.  But for the time being, I'll catch up on sleep precious sleep.  

Notes:  We took the Manila-Baguio-Sagada route for a little more flexibility in choosing our departure and arrival times.  GL/Lizardo Transport located at the old Dangwa staton in Baguio now requires you to buy a ticket before boarding.  The Baguio - Sagada bus sked: (Bus 587) 6:30am - Sagada, (Bus 664) 8:30am - Besao to Sagada;  (Bus 582) 9:30am - Sagada; (Bus 109) 10:30am - Besao to Sagada; (Bus 459) 11:30am - Sagada; (Bus 897) 1pm - Besao to Sagada • The Sagada - Baguio sked: every hour from 5am until 10am, last bus leaves at 1pm
Sagada - Dramatic Pines
Dramatic Pine trunks in the waning afternoon light
Alternative ways of getting to Sagada: Manila - Bontoc - Sagada: Ride the Cable Tours bus, St. Andrews Seminary, Cathedral Heights, Quezon City, 8:30pm, travel time: 12 hours; fare: P650; then take the jeep from Bontoc to Sagada, travel time: 45 minutes to 1 hour; fare: P50 • Manila - Banaue - Sagada: Ride the Florida Bus (near UST in EspaƱa in Sampaloc, Manila); around 830pm; travel time: 9 hours; fare: P450; then take the jeep or van bound for Bontoc


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